Dem warns Bill Clinton: Back off
December 29th, 2010
08:45 AM ET
12 years ago

Dem warns Bill Clinton: Back off

(CNN) – Rep. Danny Davis, a Democrat from Illinois and mayoral candidate in Chicago has a message for former President Bill Clinton: Butt out.

Davis, a onetime ally of Clinton's, issued a strongly worded statement Tuesday, in which the Chicago Democrat said he is "seriously concerned and disturbed" by the news Clinton plans to throw his weight behind ex-Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and make a campaign stop in the Windy City next month.

"The African American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship maybe fractured and perhaps even broken should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community," Davis said in the statement.

The pushback from a prominent member of the black community echoes that which greeted Clinton in 2008 as he campaigned on behalf of his wife, a presidential candidate at the time battling then-Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton - long a popular figure in the black community - saw his approval numbers sink among that demographic as he took sharp aim at Obama and questioned the freshman senator's competancy to sit in the Oval Office, sometimes in terms conceived as particularly harsh.

Clinton's office has not responded to Davis' comments.

The former president's windy city appearance, announced last week by Emanuel's campaign, would be his first campaign stop since the November midterm elections.

Emanuel served in the Clinton White House for five years before serving as an Illinois congressman and Obama's top aide, a post he left earlier this year to run for mayor.

The Chicago Board of Elections ruled Thursday that he is in fact a Chicago resident, and therefore his name may remain on the ballot for the February 22 election.

According to a recent poll, Emanuel is garnering close to 44 percent of support from likely Chicago voters while Davis is far back at 7 percent.

UPDATE: The Chicago Sun Times' Lynn Sweet reports that Carol Mosely Braun, a former ambassador to New Zealand under Clinton and now a candidate for mayor in Chicago, is also calling on the former president to back off.

Her statement:


"Bill Clinton is an outsider parachuting in to support another outsider. Rahm's residency status continues to be challenged in court. It's not yet clear that he will be on the ballot. At the same time former president Clinton risks his legacy and the great respect that he has enjoyed among African Americans by coming to Chicago to endorse Rahm Emanuel who is running for mayor against two black candidates.

"Clinton should remember New Hampshire where he called Barack Obama's opposition to the war in Iraq 'a fairy tale.' He was wrong.

"Clinton should remember South Carolina where he played the race card painting Obama as "the black candidate". Again he was wrong. Bill Clinton will be wrong again if he gets involved in the Chicago mayoral contest. He should stay home and avoid the cold."

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Michelle

    National politicians make endorsements in local political races all the time. Bill CLinton gets to make his choice. You may not like that he is backing another candidate, but that is his right. Challenging him is ridiculous get your message out and let the people decide on the merits of your ideas and plans

    December 29, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Really...?

    I'm sure Mr. Davis would have issued the same statement had Mr. Clinton offered to campaign for him...Good luck with that one!

    December 29, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  3. Readbetweenthelines

    This guy is clever to use Clinton to get his name in the headlines. Danny who? Exactly. The 6 other candidates are more well know by name, clever move Mr. Davis. Too bad it won't work it will do little to garner you votes.

    December 29, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  4. Mariann Pepitone

    Emmanuel worked for Bill Clinton when he was president and it shouldn't make any difference to Davis if Clinton campaigns for Emmanuel. Davis is 69 years old and too old to be running for Mayor. Neither Braun, Davis, Chico or Del Valle are capable of running the city of Chicago. Davis should stay quiet or step down. Even if Clinton didn't campaign for Emmanuel, Emmanuel would win anyway. He has all the capabilities of handling the job and has more experience in politices than the other candidates. He is a resident of Chicago regardless of working for Obama and renting his home out. There should never be a law that states you have to be a resident for one year in Chicago to run for office. I hope he wins and wins big.

    December 29, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  5. Brad

    Are you kidding me???? Talk about Mr. Davis is suggesting affirmative action in elections now?? It's about who the voters want and Mr. Clinton can throw his weight behind whomever he chooses. Regarding President Clinton's support of his wife in 2008(she so should have won)......duh.....of course he supported her. Sounds like Mr Davis is simply disgruntled by the poll numbers.

    December 29, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Wah, wah! You're not backing me, so I don't want you to come here and support my opponent! Wah! Wah! While Bill Clinton has historically had excellent relations with Black Americans, if he believes Rahm Emmanuel is the better candidate he has the right to support his choice, and let others know what he believes! The other term which I have to offer to Rep. Davis, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

    December 29, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. jbe

    a corrupt politician supporting another co-rrupt politician? oh no whatever will we do?

    December 29, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. Seattle Sue

    Perhaps former Pesident Clinton thinks Emanuel is the best candidate, no mater what race.

    December 29, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. valencia faircloth

    i like fomer bill clinton if something happen to our president now i would like to have him to rerun or his wife

    December 29, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  10. soxphan

    Rahm worked for Clinton for 5 years and now Clinton is endorsing him as a candidate because he knows Rahm will do a good job. This Davis guy needs a lesson on sour grapes.

    December 29, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Mariann Pepitone

    Who is Davis to give a warning to Bill Clinton. Clinton can campaign for whoever he wants and Emmanuel worked in his administration and they are good friends. I believe that Emmanuel will win some of the black vote regardless because Davis is far too old to be running for office of the Mayor. And the other candidates don't have a chance to win over Emmanuel. He is the best candidate for Mayor to run this city outside of Mayor Daley who is retiring. If Davis thinks he has a chance of winning he better think it over because he doesn't and neither does the other candidates. They all want Emmanuel out of the race because they know he is a winner. Emmanuel is an excellent speaker, highly educated and knows what changes this city needs.

    December 29, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. mgc florida

    This guy is delusional and does not speak for all black people in chicago, we are a monolithic group, many opinions just like everyone else.

    December 29, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. Mike

    You know BO is behind this – he's PO'd that Rahm left him and the sinking ship that is his administration.

    December 29, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. kd

    Davis, you need to calm down. Clinton can back whoever he wants.

    You show an edge that's not very attractive for a mayoral candidate.

    December 29, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. Initiative

    Bill Clinton may be popular among Blacks but it doesn't mean that he should support a Black candidate if in his opinion there is someone more suitable.

    December 29, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Gil

    I say the Dems. should back off! To each their won. Bill should be able to do whatever he darn well pleases as an American citizen and individual. Let's not start playing the republicans games that have them going around like a bunch of robotic party "Yes!" people!

    December 29, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Suz

    So Mr. Davis is basically saying that if Clinton endorses his opponent, he's anti-black?

    Likewise, Clinton is anti-black for wanting to back his wife for the Democratic Presidential nomination and for pointing out some very good drawbacks in connection with the election of President Obama?


    December 29, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  18. Michael Paul

    I hope Bill does visit, and I hope he endorses who he wants to endorse, and doesn't let racism in Chicago intimidate him.

    December 29, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. tray117

    The man's touch is still GOLDEN! Too bad, whoever ran against Rahm.

    December 29, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Liz the First

    Of course the thought probably never entered Mr. Davis's mind that President Clinton might just think Rahm is a better candidate and that race has nothing to do with it. talk about playing the race card. reprehensible! I'm sure Mr. Clinton has done more to benefit the black community over the years than Mr. Davis has even dreamed of doing.

    December 29, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  21. sara

    Butt out but back me instead. Bill can do what he wants, Who is this Davis guy anyway, looks like he is already behind.

    December 29, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. nannygranny

    N o matter your name, or race,all of us have the right to back the canidate of our choice.If the black community has the better canidate then he will come out on top.I don`t believe Clinton is picking his choice by color,he has always did his best to help the African-American race.And what was wrong with him supporting his wife in 2008?When we start looking at the problems in this country and vote our concerns,MAYBE we can fix America. I,for one, am sick of the hate,gossip,lies,and character assination of our politics.Its a ploy to distract the voters from the truth and real issues that D.C. should be fixing.

    December 29, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. Robert

    Someone needs to speak with this guy Davis.

    December 29, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. Chuck

    Typical. I don't think that race should have a damn thing to do with who anybody supports. To openly state "should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community," shows exactly what the issue is for a lot of people. It has nothing to do with who will do the best job but who is black. I'm sick of the black community using being "black" as a qualification to legislate.

    December 29, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. Bneal

    I'm a Republican, so I usually love when the other party is fighting amoug themselvers, but this is ridiculous. Clinton campaigned for his wife and is campaigning for a former aid and friend and because the opponents are African Americans, he's getting a backlash from the community? This makes no sense at all. Someone please explain.

    December 29, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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